Gatwick builds greater diversity into F&B offer by championing local brands

By Trbusiness Editor |

Vagabond, Gatwick

Vagabond Founder Stephen Finch, Head of Marketing Sophie Evans, and Managing Director Matthew Fleming at the Gatwick location launch. Photo: Ian Hill.

The opening of Vagabond Bar & Kitchen, which launched at Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal last month, is the first in a wave of exciting new F&B choices available to travellers at the hub.

Vagabond stands out for offering food alongside locally sourced wines and craft beers in a family-friendly environment.

“It has been a long, interesting, fun journey,” Vagabond Founder Stephen Finch, told TRBusiness at the opening of the pour-your-own wine bar in June.

“[It’s] much bigger than our other airport outlet [Ed: at Heathrow’s T5] and I believe Gatwick is taking a bit of a punt on working with us and introducing this exciting concept to shake things up a bit.”

Judging by the full tables and queues to eat last month, the venture is already proving successful.

The restaurant occupies 7,000 square feet and seats 300 covers, providing passengers with a choice of more than 80 wines from around the world, including the best local wines via its bespoke self-serve dispensing machines – a fun and effortless way for passengers to discover new wines and sample before committing to a glass or bottle.

Vagabond also features a self-pour craft ‘beer wall’, providing a similar discovery experience.

Award-winning wines from vineyards in Sussex and Kent are highlighted, such as Artelium near Ditchling, Digby in Arundel, Tillingham in Rye, and Kingscote, which is based less than 10 miles from Gatwick Airport, in East Grinstead.

Vagabond, Gatwick

Award-winning wines from vineyards in Sussex and Kent are highlighted at Vagabond’s latest location at Gatwick Airport.

Many of these can also be found at its sister bar, South Downs, a premium sparkling wine bar and brand-new concept that’s exclusive to Gatwick, sited in the South Terminal Departure lounge in front of Vagabond.

South Downs also offers a cocktail menu developed by Max Benning of Three Sheets, recognised as one of the world’s top 50 bars, alongside its local sparkling wines. The bar is also set to serve a range of meals and snacks made with locally sourced ingredients.

Vagabond, Gatwick

A snapshot of the wine selection at Vagabond, Gatwick.

“We are delighted to welcome both Vagabond and South Downs bar to our South Terminal, who will provide a wonderful selection of wines and beers from fantastic vineyards and breweries located across our region,” said Rachel Bulford, Retail Director, Gatwick Airport.

“The eye-catching design of the sparkling wine bar – South Downs – brings the outside in and reflects the greenery of the countryside surrounding Gatwick.”

When asked about how this local focus may bring a greater diversity into retailers’ ranges in both terminals and Bulford replied: “We are looking at bringing more local brands into the airport and are encouraging local producers across London and the Southeast.

Vagabond, Gatwick

Left: Vagabond Gatwick interior. Right: A selection of drinks served at Vagabond.

“We will leave the choice to our retailers,” she continued. “We have several new tenders coming up in specialist and fashion categories and are thinking very much about how dissimilar categories can work together, creating diversity.

“From an airport point of view, we want to make sure that the consumer has a wide choice in F&B, including quick service and food-to-go in the shops where we see good growth and not just in confectionery.

“People are buying more food to take on board so we are looking at how we may bring more options to that category and already have Pret and Pure serving customers with other outlets like The Breakfast Table opening very soon.”

Report by Ian Hill.

READ MORE: Gatwick celebrates wine with Vagabond and South Downs bar openings


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